THE ROAD TO WEST 43RD STREET by Nash K. with Pearl Amelia McHaney Burger


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Gentle memoirs of Mississippi youth and literary life from a longtime New York Timesman, aided by editor and teacher McHaney. Burger grew up in Jackson, Miss. Somewhat younger than William Faulkner, whom he encountered as a child, Burger is an exact contemporary of his lifelong friend Eudora Welty and also of Richard Wright, who grew up across town from him though they never met. While Welty remains near the center, however, this succinct, modest autobiography does not dwell on literary celebrity, but celebrates instead the everyday conjunctures that gave life to the communities that Burger limns. Opening chapters tell of the ""North-South romance and marriage"" that brought together his mother, from New England, and his Virginian father. Quoting from family letters, he narrates their removal to Jackson, where his father worked in sales for a shoe company. While frankly colored by nostalgia, Burger's childhood memories of school, sports, and scouting feature arresting detail. Reminiscing about his favorite books, Burger brings alive the excitement of reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, while offering an informative tour through the distinctive children's literature of the South. Books have been Burger's ruling passion. Memories of Sewanee College and of the University of Virginia show his formation in the prewar flowering of southern intellectual life. After WW II Burger was brought on board the Sunday New York Times Book Review by Welty, then on its staff. While at the Times, Burger helped bring the Civil War and religious topics to prominence in the book world. Today's practitioners will envy Burger the leisured pace afforded him for his book reviewing and editing. One remains curious as to how Burger, a southerner in New York during the civil rights years, resolved the contradictions between his self-confessed Confederate ""ideology"" and his generous attitude toward African-Americans. Agreeable reflections, though not of universal interest.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0878057935
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi